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Secrets to Cinematic First Dance Images

Scott Robert Lim | Champion of Light

"I love how the Reflex S is small and portable, yet delivers unequaled, clean powerful light. It's revolutionary."

Scott Robert Lim, an international master photographer and Sony Artisan with over 20 years of experience in wedding photography, shares his passion for telling love stories through cinematic wedding photography. He believes that the key to creating stunning wedding images lies in great lighting. That’s what separates seasoned professionals from novice photographers.

"The problem with a wedding is it’s totally unpredictable and can be very chaotic and stressful if you don’t know what you're doing. So how do I take an unpredictable and potentially chaotic situations and consistently create good imagery?"

"The solution is very simple.. when the lighting is lacking in my environment, I use my StellaPro Reflex to quickly and easily create great lighting for me when I need it. What’s the result - consistently great lighting in every wedding situation, helping me create the love story, I want to tell."

It took me quite a long time to figure out the exact mood I wanted to capture during the first dance. This is probably one of the most emotional and endearing moments of the wedding. Lighting makes a huge difference. The problem is, with an indoor reception, the photographer has to create their own light because most reception lighting is very dim and dark. Using constant light with the Reflex in this situation has many advantages and makes it easy to capture my signature cinematic style. Warning, this takes a little practice but the results are fantastic. Here is my step by step process: 1. I look for an interesting background and where I want to position myself for the first dance. I usually look for beautiful lights in the background and steer clear of having the DJ or distracting elements in my framing. I often take a low position and shoot up at the hanging lights and eliminate the guests in the background. In this case I had some beautiful string lights to work with. 2. I set my exposure to the background but i keep in mind my shutter speed has to be around 1/160th to 1/200 of a second or greater, to correctly capture and stop the motion of the subjects dancing. I set my F-stop to the lowest. I love using my 50mm F1.2 lens. 3. I add backlight with my two Reflex lights. One in each corner of the dance floor pointing to the middle behind my subjects. Each situation is different but usually I set my lights at around 1500 lumens. This will give me some amazing rim light and make may subjects glow. 4. I add a touch of soft light on my subjects to make sure they are not too dark. The light on the subject has to be somewhat equal to the light in the background for a perfectly balanced exposure.

To do this, I used a third Reflex and point it up at the ceiling on the opposite side of the dance floor next to me. This will give me some beautiful soft light reflecting down on my subjects and creates a wide spread of light needed as the couple moves around the dance floor. The results are outstanding and I never have to worry about my flash trigger not firing or figuring out the right power of my flash units which can be difficult for the beginner. What you see is what you get. I can now shoot 3-5 frames per second or higher to capture the perfect moments, something I could never do with my traditional flash units. I use the same set up for all the dance floor reception shots with the guests but I just turn all my Reflex lights up at the white ceiling. This gives me a very broad spread of light all over the dance floor and I’m free to capture images no matter where I’m shooting. I adjust the power according to taste.

First dance

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